50 years ago, a high profile commission led by the impeccable credentials of Earl Warren certified that the murder of John F Kennedy had been a simple, random tragedy, the work of a lonely, deranged man. The phrase "conspiracy theory" wasn't in use before that time, but the phrase and all the stigma that attaches to it were concocted that year in a PR campaign orchestrated by the CIA to de-legitimize those who questioned the many strange occurrences surrounding the assassination:
Lee Harvey Oswald, the only suspect in the case, was murdered while in police custody, by a gunman who was able to walk right through police lines and TV cameramen on the premises of Dallas police HQ.
The gunman, Jack Ruby, died of cancer, so no trial or police investigation or defense lawyers were available for either murder.
Oswald was identified by a full physical description immediately, though he could only have been seen, if at all, through a 6th floor window in a warehouse hundreds of feet from the crime.
Though Kennedy was purportedly shot from the back, his head could be seen in a bystander's home movie camera thrown backward by the impact. The original film was purchased by Life Magazine, which claimed to have damaged it by accident, so other details could not be seen.
The single magic bullet that the Commission concluded to have killed Kennedy entered his back and emerged higher, at his neck, though it had been shot from above. The same bullet then entered John Connally, who was sitting next to Kennedy, shattered his rib, emerged and re-entered at his wrist, breaking a wrist bone, emerged and became lodged in his thigh. None the worse for wear, the magic bullet was recovered in pristine condition on a gurney at Parkland Memorial Hospital - a different gurney from the one on which Connally was carried into the hospital.
...but to admit that there had been more than one bullet would have meant there was more than one gunman, and the story line of the 889-page Warren report would have to be altered.
The idea that a tragedy was a random event helped to calm public confidence, because it suggested a rare fluke. It follows that there is little danger this kind of thing will be repeated, that we can go on as before. But in fact, subsequent years brought a chain of suspicious deaths in the wake of JFK's: Kennedy's friend/mistress/peace activist Mary Pinchot Meyer, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Kennedy's brother Robert. By official account, they were all murdered in random, unrelated incidents by lone gunman who were mentally unstable.
In the 50 years since the assassination, there have been too many theories, too many books and movies to count. There is agreement on a core narrative,and various accounts of surrounding people and events. The information that could presumably clear this up is being withheld illegally despite thousands of FOIA requests and a 1992 law explicitly ordering the opening of all records.This evening begins a conference in Bethesda, MD, organized by OEN's own Jerry Policoff, who is a national expert on the JFK assassination. I will be reporting what I learn this weekend.